November 14, 2016

Grace Under Fire: The Purpose of Fiery Trials, pt 2

by Clint Archer

On 7 November, 2007, Trevor Arnold was piloting a Boeing 737 from Cape Town to Johannesburg when it experienced some technical difficulty a few seconds after takeoff. To be exact, its right engine fell off.

engine-offMr. Arnold recalled from his training at flight school that it was a bad sign when engines start falling off your plane.

His job was simple: land the plane. But if it was just the engine that was gone, that would have been a relatively good day for Mr. Arnold.

During the incident, the aircraft also lost most of its hydraulics, meaning that brakes and steering were virtually non-existent. But that’s not all. The whole incident took place in stormy weather with dangerously strong crosswinds. The outcome? Arnold maintained his composure, harnessed his training and instincts, and successfully landed the Boeing without anyone on board sustaining any injuries.

Many people refused to fly with that airline again but I booked my next flight on that airline with great confidence. This was the only airline that I knew for certain had pilots who could handle a plane in freak, catastrophic conditions. I know all pilots have to go through training and simulations, and all claim to be able to handle emergencies. But the only person in the world I know for a fact can do it, is Trevor Arnold.

Why? Because only Trevor Arnold’s skills have been proven in real life.

Most passengers have no idea how well qualified their pilots are until their skill is proven in a trial by fire. And that’s what the Apostle Peter said about Christians. No one knows their faith is genuine until that faith has been exposed to intense conditions and shown to be true under fire.

Last week we looked at the grand design behind fiery trials; this week we examine the results of trials.


1 Pet 1: 6-7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.


Peter is referring here to the process of assaying metal – of evaluating, testing or proving its genuineness. Anybody can claim to have faith, but many people’s cheap faith crumbles under scrutiny, proving that it is not genuine faith.engine-on-fire

In Matthew 13:20-21 Jesus mentions this type of faith: “As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.”

Fake faith was revealed when persecution arose. It’s like a fake Rolex – it looks real until you apply the slightest amount of scrutiny…if you rub a little too hard the gold comes off. If it gets in water, it rusts. Many people are like that – as soon as their faith comes under the slightest scrutiny they fall away from the faith and they are proven to be fake Christians.

Trials result on your faith being proven, tested to show that it is genuine.


We all know that gold does not come out of the earth in the form of dainty rings and spiffy cufflinks. Gold needs to be mined and crushed and smelted and purified and molded and polished. It becomes more pure as it is goes through the fire. The fire not only proves its genuineness, but actually makes it purer as the dross is removed.

James 1:2-4 says that this true of our faith too. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Every little trial that comes our way – a stubbed toe, a car breaking down – is sent by God to slowly start building up and strengthening our faith.

Don’t waste those opportunities, as little as they are, because when the big test comes you will have been strengthened, and you can comfort others, and you can give glory to God.


It might surprise you to know that this passage teaches that not only does praise and glory and honor go to Jesus – but also to the faithful believer, on the last day. The New Testament is clear, part of the reward a Christian received at the Bēma Seat is praise from God.

I know what you are thinking – “I don’t want to get praise; I want God to get praised.” That is a great instinct. But you are not going to get praise from other believers or from the angels – there will be no choir in heaven extolling you. This is praise you are getting from God – you are not robbing him of praise – he is giving you praise! This is the reward we should crave more than any other, the blessing of commendation from our Master.

Jesus ends off the parable of the talents in Matthew 25: 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

This servant it not robbing the master of praise – he is getting praise from the

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

The honor we receive will be our rewards. Have a read “Saving the Little Drummer Boy” and “Running for the Crown of Glory” to see more of the inspiring doctrine of eternal rewards.

What’s so amazing about this is that God gives us the faith as a gift, he brings the trial, he gives us the perseverance to get through the trial, and then he commends us afterwards. It’s God’s grace all the way.

Do you thank you Lord for counting you worthy to suffer, to persevere by his grace, so that others can glorify him in this life and so that you will receive a commendation and a reward and share in his glory when Christ returns? Think of your Master’s joy the next time your mettle is tested in a trial by fire.

Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • Jason

    “Mr. Arnold recalled from his training at flight school that it was a bad sign when engines start falling off your plane.”

    Thank you, I needed a good laugh.

    • Happy to oblige!

    • Truth Unites… and Divides

      I thought that was funny too.

      Anyways, the overall thrust of this post was most excellent.